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Gagosian Quarterly

June 8, 2018

Edmund de Waalwhite island

Edmund de Waal considers Ibiza, Walter Benjamin, and the “aura of things” in a text entitled white island, written to accompany his first exhibition in Spain at the Museu d’Art Contemporani d’Eivissa, Ibiza.

Installation view, Edmund de Waal: White Island, Museu d’Art Contemporani d’Eivissa, Ibiza, Spain, June 8–September 23, 2018

Installation view, Edmund de Waal: White Island, Museu d’Art Contemporani d’Eivissa, Ibiza, Spain, June 8–September 23, 2018

white island

This is the white island. The white of the salt flats, the foam breaking in the breeze. The white of the rock. The white haze. Light at midday so intense that your eyes lose distance.

This is a place of transition and exchange. You dig down and reach the Roman, then the Phoenician. All the gods are here.

All islands face the compass.

This is an island of refuge, a place of exile. In the 1930s the island becomes an agora: artists, writers, architects from Berlin, Vienna, Paris, walking the dusty hills. What is needed here? It is the question you can ask in this white landscape. Émigré Raoul Hausmann, Viennese artist and writer, photographs a well, a chair, a doorway, a woman sitting, a naked body on the edge of the sea. This is essential, he writes. He notes the structures of the village buildings, the way forms repeat. He fixates on the cast of shadows on white walls. This is a place he can start again.

Edmund de Waal: white island

Installation view, Edmund de Waal: White Island, Museu d’Art Contemporani d’Eivissa, Ibiza, Spain, June 8–September 23, 2018

The philosopher, Walter Benjamin, Berlin via Paris and everywhere else, walks here too—the slow pace of his city life slowing even more. He notices the economy: “Three chairs along the wall of the room opposite the entrance greet the stranger with assurance and weightiness as if three works by Cranach or Gaugin were leaning against the wall; a sombrero over the back of the chair is more imposing than a precious Gobelin tapestry.” There are long days of “doing without countless things, less so because they shorten life than because none of them is available, or when they are, they are in such bad condition that you are glad to do without them—electric light and butter, liquor and running water, flirting and reading the paper.” The white island gives him “an image of such immutable perfection” that hovers on the very brink of the invisible. He starts to write a history of solitude.

The chairs make Benjamin think that the secret of the value of things is that they have “enough space to take possession of whatever new positions they are called upon to fill.” He starts to think about the aura of things.

White is not a stripping back to reveal, but a starting place. A page, a wall, a handful of white clay, porcelain, a block of stone. It is the pull and push between the object and its shadow.

Here are my white works. There are fragments of poetry, a winter song, part of an elegy by, Osip Mandelstam. There are sculptures made for strong light: gold behind alabaster, porcelain held within vitrines. They are my three chairs glimpsed through an open door. They are my objects taken on a journey. All they need is light, architecture, a window. And I’ve written on the wall. I’ve always wanted to write on walls.

You want it now? The light changes.

The senses get tired, writes Lydia Davis. You are on an island. Slow down.

Edmund de Waal: white island

Installation view, Edmund de Waal: White Island, Museu d’Art Contemporani d’Eivissa, Ibiza, Spain, June 8–September 23, 2018

Artwork © Edmund de Waal; Edmund de Waal: White Island, Museu d’Art Contemporani d’Eivissa, Ibiza, Spain, June 8–September 23, 2018

Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2019

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2019

The Summer 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Afrylic by Ellen Gallagher on its cover.

Edmund de Waal: psalm

Edmund de Waal: psalm

The artist speaks about his two-part exhibition psalm, on view in Venice. He describes its connection to the history of the city and to notions of exile, and the profound cultural wealth that comes from migration.

Edmund de Waal and Simon Fisher Turner: Tapping the World

In Conversation
Edmund de Waal and Simon Fisher Turner: Tapping the World

Edmund de Waal speaks with the composer Simon Fisher Turner about their collaboration on the exhibition –one way or other– at the Schindler House in West Hollywood, California.

the poems of our climate

the poems of our climate

Edmund de Waal reflects on memory, sound, and the presence of poetry in a new body of work on view at Gagosian, San Francisco.

–one way or other–

–one way or other–

Edmund de Waal discusses his exhibition one way or other at the Schindler House in West Hollywood, CA.

Witness

Witness

A text by Edmund de Waal touches on the inspiration he finds in the work of Giorgio Morandi.

Edmund de Waal at Frieze London

Edmund de Waal at Frieze London

In this video the artist walks us through his installation at Frieze London, speaking of how this new body of work reflects memories and recollections.

Sally Mann: Remembered Light

Sally Mann: Remembered Light

Edmund de Waal and Sally Mann discuss Cy Twombly’s relationship to photography, Mann’s pervasive interest in the American South, and the context behind her newest body of work.

Edmund de Waal at Artipelag

Edmund de Waal at Artipelag

For the exhibition Edmund de Waal, Giorgio Morandi at Artipelag in Gustavsberg, Sweden, Edmund de Waal presented a lecture based upon his most recent book, The White Road. Covering a wide-ranging spectrum of topics, from porcelain to Dresden, from Morandi to the Ming Dynasty, the speech is a poetic and historical look into the influences that continue to shape de Waal’s artistic and literary practices.

Installation view of the exhibition Henry Moore at Houghton Hall: Nature and Inspiration.

Nature and Inspiration: Henry Moore at Houghton Hall

Sebastiano Barassi reflects on the centrality of nature in the work of Henry Moore—as form, material, inspiration, and site.

Richard Prince, Untitled, 2016–18.

Richard Prince

Text by Richard Hell.

Andy Warhol: Everything Is Good

Andy Warhol: Everything Is Good

Richard Hell writes about the “transcendentally camp” Pop artist, portraitist of daily life.